~ By Brad Egeland
More than 50% of all projects already fail – there's no need to increase that percentage by failing to include the full project team in ownership of the project's overall mission.
Every project needs a strong leader to have a decent chance of success. An organised leader running a well-planned project is much more likely to achieve project success and customer satisfaction than an indecisive, inexperienced project leader.
Add to that a very committed and accountable project team and the likelihood can increase exponentially.
Team members who understand the project are more committed to making the project successful. To understand is to make sense of what is required of you. It involves understanding how what you do fits into the whole.
Understanding involves taking in information and knowledge so that it becomes your own.
When people on a team understand the project - why it's being done, what they are supposed to do, how what they do affects others and fits into the whole picture - they are more effective as individuals and more effective as a team.
They are also more motivated. Through understanding, they engage not only the mind, but also the heart. How do you gain this understanding among team members?
One easy, nearly sure way is to get them involved in the project planning process as much as possible. If key members of your team are assigned to the project early enough, then they can assist with drafting the project schedule. They can help put together the project kickoff presentation materials. They can help define tasks.
Most importantly, they take very early ownership in the outcomes of the project through early planning involvement.
Conversely, if team members only understand their own piece of the project, they do what is best for them. They don't necessarily do what is best for the project as a whole. This can create inadvertent problems for other team members.
Besides what has been discussed above, several factors help breed this commitment. Here, I'll focus on the first of three of these factors:
Misunderstandings among team members are minimised when everyone understands the whole project.
Understanding is best achieved through team participation in the project management process. This creates ownership. It promotes understanding. It helps to build the team. Team participation, however, is not the same as team building.
What's the difference?
Team building is an activity (or activities) directed at getting people to better understand and trust each other. It typically has very little to do with understanding the work to be accomplished. As a result, when people return to doing the work after the team building is over, the same work conflicts erupt again.
Don't make the mistake of opting for team building instead of participation.
If you exclude the team from the project management activities, you won't develop an effective team. Team-member understanding and ownership will be greatly diminished.
What really counts is not artificial team building, but involving the team in the real project decision-making.
In Part 2 of this two-part series, we'll look at a couple more factors that breed commitment and contribute to overall project success.
I welcome all readers to consider their own experiences and thoughts on this subject. Are we missing anything? Please share any additional notions of getting your team committed to success and accountable for project outcomes.
We'd love to hear your experiences as you work for your best possible chances for project success. How do you keep projects from being one of the 50% that fail?